In a few weeks LaTroy Hawkins will hit the free agent market coming off a rather impressive looking season. He threw 63 innings, boasted 11 saves, and posted a 2.13 ERA. Thanks to the strong season, Hawkins’ career ERA with the Astros is sub-2.00 in fewer than 85 innings. Dig beyond the surface and Hawkins is what everyone thought he was; which is to say: not quite that good. His 3.97 FIP and 5.25 tRA contrast thanks to an unusually high line drive rate.
Way back when Hawkins was a Twin, he posted similar numbers, which led way to signing a handsome free agent contract with the Cubs. Fans jeered him with every mistake and that experiment ended quickly as he was shipped to San Francisco. Since, he’s bounced around with Colorado – making two World Series appearances even – and then went to New York. Yankee fans were relentless on the fact that he wore the same number as Paul O’Neil and actually chanted O’Neil’s name during one of Hawkins’ appearances. Hawkins then moved on to Houston and that’s where we sit now.
Hawkins has essentially lived off one-year deals since that Cubs contract – which he finished with the Orioles in 2006 — and his free agency is going to be fun to watch for one reason in particular: will any club give him a multiple-year contract? If one does, I would have to assume it’s going to because of his shiny ERA and closer potential. This seems like a very bad idea. Hawkins’ tRA has finished above 5 two of the last three years and his FIP will likely be near 4. That’s not to say Hawkins is unserviceable, just that he’s not as valuable as his ERA suggests.
The antithesis of Hawkins’ situation might be Kevin Gregg. Another guy who knows what it’s like to be scorned by the north side’s most loyal fans, he’s coming off an atrocious season and may very well be undervalued based on it. Unlike Hawkins, Gregg has shown the ability to post decent tRA and FIP figures in three consecutive years prior to this one. He too holds the closer potential, but not the shiny ERA. The downed velocity is a bit of a concern and I’m not entirely sure he lands a multiple-year deal either; but he’s the only one of the two who deserves it.
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